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Four Years Later…Is the Project Still Going?

December 17th, 2011 35 comments

Today is the four-year anniversary of the Front Mission: Series Translation Project! It was December 17, 2007 when this whole shebang started, and now it’s December 17, 2011!

So anyone who’s been following this blog and our website might notice that there’s been practically NO updates since June of this year. And maybe that there were new people running the whole gig…this is correct. Oh, and maybe some people are wondering if the Front Mission: Series Translation Project is dead or alive. Well, speaking on behalf of the founders (since I did help co-found it with Angelo, Imran, Kyle, Wilson and the others – see the About page on the website), I’ll make this as straight and clear as I can.

On the “New” Management…

Basically, around fall of 2010, some “fans” of Front Mission were sucking up to us and saying how they wanted to help contribute to the project. After about a few months of this suck-up job, the team decided to let these people take over the mantle. The main reason for this, in my opinion, was that all of us who had been here since day 1 were moving on to new things…and we didn’t have the time to dedicate work on the projects. I myself can’t dedicate much work because I’m in the process of starting up a small, “indie” game development studio and that’s been eating up all of my free time. I know that Imran, Kyle, and Wilson have all had new jobs since spring of 2011, but I’m not in the know of what they’re doing. And my good pal Angelo (we go way back since university) has been bogged down with software localization in his new job, only now he’s being paid to make it happen. Not sure what everyone else is doing, but I’d assume they’ve moved onto new things as well.

So with everyone’s productivity dropping like a rock because of new jobs and other real life issues, we thought it would be a good idea to pass down the torch. Around June-ish, we gave the new team all the materials and notes we had, and wished them well in progressing the Front Mission projects. Finish up Front Mission 2 (the translation and editing were long done by spring of 2011), going further into Front Mission Alternative, and doing the side projects too. Now with December’s arrival, it is disappointing to say that the new management did not fulfill their end of the deal. No monthly updates, no reported progress on Front Mission 2, only minor changes to the web pages here and there, and quite honestly, no real interest in getting the job done! As a game developer in real life, this reinforces my point that game development of any kind should remain in the hands of those who actually want to see something done.

Anyhow, we’ve fired those “fans” from their jobs and rightfully so. We’ve also switched to a new web provider because our original one was closing down. The website and this blog will be alive for at least another year. So what happens now?

On Front Mission 2 and Front Mission Alternative…

As I said above, Front Mission 2 from the pure text work is already done. The problem is getting past the game’s encryption…which pretty much has been our major roadblock since fall of 2010. Without getting too much into the technical jargon, Front Mission 2 has a unique encryption scheme that requires advanced programming knowledge to manipulate. When we tried to work around it, the game would spit out all sorts of glitches. An entire mission script could be fully inserted, yet when played in game may randomly spit out Japanese sentences. Another issue involved words mysteriously disappearing (or appearing garbled) from the text window, even when the script was double-checked for technical and linguistic errors! It’s a real pain to deal with, and solidifies my personal thoughts on why games localization isn’t an easy thing to do.

Front Mission Alternative on the other hand, is a more interesting case. The game’s language change option actually changes a little more than just the interfaces and game data from Japanese to English, and vice versa. It took quite a lot of testing for us to figure that out, but eventually we did. So like Front Mission 2, it’s obvious that this game was also meant to show up on English-speaking shores. (which wouldn’t be a surprise, since both games were being worked on at the same time) The main issue behind Front Mission Alternative is the game’s unique font coding. Unlike every other Front Mission, the font is synchronized with the in-game story events in that its appearance is timed with the presentation of the said event. So as the story plays out, the font slowly appears on the text window in a typewriter-esque fashion. Personally I think it’s neat, but this does present programming and linguistic challenges since there is no auto-scrolling of the text (can’t add new lines or a “page” in the text window). And everyone who is familiar with the Japanese language should know how many characters can be compressed into a mere kanji symbol!

So with the original team back in control, we will find a way to deliver the Front Mission 2 localization to all of you, the fans, in some form. Don’t expect us to churn it out quickly since we’re all busy bodies in real life at the moment, but in the words of Adam Jensen from Deus Ex: Human Revolution, we’re going to get the job done! At best, we can release a patch for Front Mission 2 with content equal to our Revised Patch 3 for Front Mission 5: Scars of the War because that’s all we’ve been able to crack…so far. We might try this and release a text guide for the non-mission story events, as that’s an option we were considering during the start of this year. Front Mission Alternative needs quite a lot more translation and editing before it would be ready, not to mention the font programming roadblock.

On Other Things Front Mission…

Frankly, I think the only thing that we can absolutely finish in the near future are the translations for the Front Mission Series: Gun Hazard radio drama series. It was something one of our members wanted to learn more about, so we managed to find the scripts after much searching…another nifty little “holy grail” of the franchise. Front Mission: The Declassified Documents (we changed it, Declassified sounds cooler and more 24-ish!) is pretty much 99% done in terms of data collection. The only thing that needs to be done is stitching it all together in some massive 500-1000 page tome (200 is too low a number, even if we were only covering the video games alone!). It’s pretty sick looking at all the data the team’s collected, and that data pretty much shows the all-encompassing power of Front Mission as a brand of various media, or a transmedia (Google that, it’s dead-on of what Front Mission as a whole really is). Maybe we’ll do a Mother 3 and sell these tomes haha! The video series…ehhh, I think it’s a lot easier to work on the big reference book. Too much effort to try and capture the whole thing in a show format. That’s just me though.

Dog Life & Dog Style Coming Soon in French!

Speaking of other Front Mission things, Front Mission Dog Life & Dog Style is going to have French releases produce from publisher Ki-oon. This is in addition to the original Japanese and the fairly recent Korean translations of the comic series! The first volume is coming out on January 26, 2012, if you can’t read French. Maybe this means Square Enix Co., Ltd. might just release it in English some day…I hope.

Four-Year Anniversary Stats…

Visitors: 592,898

Downloads: 176,209 (162,682 for Front Mission 5: Scars of the War patches and 13,527 for Front Mission 2 patches)

Top 10 Visitors by Country: United States (1), Russia (2), Poland (3), Brazil (4), Canada (5), France (6), Germany (7), Indonesia (8), Philippines (9), United Kingdom (10)

5 Unusual Visiting Countries: Afghanistan, Dominican Republic, Iceland, Myanmar, Turkey

Money Earned if Front Mission 5: Scars of the War was Localized in English at a Price of $50 USD Per Unit: $8,134,100

Money Spent on Purchasing Front Mission Media: At least $500 USD

Time Spent on Learning Political/Military/ Scientific Concepts and Terminology: Too many to count…

Coffee and Energy Drinks Used: Too many to count…

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